Turkey 2019

Antalya Day 2: Turkish Mermaids

We set our wake up call for 8:30 to make sure we were ready to roll out at a reasonable hour to hit up Mermeli Beach, the small private beach set in a cove near our hotel. Conveniently, it’s really simple to roll out of bed, slap on a bathing suit and cover up, and be ready for Mediterranean fun.

 

Breakfast at this hotel was a spread. All kinds of veggies, fruits, a return of Turkish French toast, and a pleasant introduction to breakfast French fries. I was into it. Why do we Americans go for hash browns or home fries in the morning? We know what we really want.

 

And of course, we got to eat with that panoramic view. Though it was very hazy in the morning, making it difficult to get a clear view of the mountains. We figured it was partially from heat, partially from air pollution. And those two factors probably didn’t get along too well together.

 

The beach was only about a five minute walk from our hotel, which was very convenient. We’d gotten there with plenty of options for seats, although the layout was a bit odd. The beach was set into a cove, and all of the seating was on the rocky shore rather than sand. It was difficult to tell which seats were available vs. which ones were taken, because there were towels on a lot of them. So we settled for some seats further from the water than we wanted, afraid to claim a taken seat. We later found out that those were just markers being used by the employees for—well, something. It was unclear.

Swimming here was lovely. The Mediterranean as a swimming ocean is…salty. It’s cool though! The water’s really buoyant so you float super easy. Which is nice, because I’m lazy and I don’t want to have to tread like a madwoman.

 

After dipping into the water, we took our place at our seats and laid out in the sun. Now, at this beach, every seat is equipped with an umbrella. At first we didn’t want the umbrellas up because we wanted to get some sun. Well the girls who set up next to us immediately put their umbrellas up, so I moved seats to avoid the shade.

But then about thirty minutes later, I realized the importance of the umbrellas. The sun was HOT. I could feel my skin singing. No amount of sunscreen was going to protect me from a burn. Not to mention it was less relaxing and more unpleasant. So I too opted to utilize the umbrella.

 

We took one more dip in the water and took some more time to lay in the heat. The beach had filled up with a ton of people, and we were both dehydrated and starving. So we took our leave and went out on a desperate search for food.

 

Conveniently the restaurant at the top of the cove was available, and we didn’t have the energy to walk any further, so we went with that option. We got a great view—though the burgers we ordered definitely weren’t the best we’d ever hard. Like they weren’t gross, but they weren’t good either. Though the French fries that came with them saved the day for me.

We’d made an appointment at a Turkish bath for the 5pm, so we had a bit of time to kill before we made our way in that direction. We also noticed right away that the hotel pool was completely free, so we took advantage of that. The pool wasn’t big, but it was just big enough to swim around a bit, bask in the sun, and rinse the salt off our bodies.

 

Sarah stayed outside for a little longer and I went inside to take a break. In about an hour and a half, it was time to head out to the bath, so we changed into dry clothes and set out. We wound through the streets of the neighborhood—Kaleiçi, which was the historic center of Antalya, dating all the way back to the Roman empire. Again, it seemed oddly empty for such a pretty touristy place.

We made it to the hamam, or Turkish Bath. But upon our arrival, there was an ominous note scrawled on a piece of paper and taped to the front door. “Closed today for a funeral.” Oh no. Yikes. Okay. So new plan. We’d try to make another appointment for tomorrow. And tonight, we’d try to get on a boat.

 

On our way back, we stopped by Hadrian’s Gate, one of the landmarks of the city. This was constructed to honor the Roman Emperor Hadrian upon his visit to the city. Imagine being so cool that a city builds a monument just because you went there once. That’s the dream.

We quickly went back to the room and threw on outfits that would be more acceptable by society (really I just wanted to fill in my eyebrows) and then set back out in the direction of the marina. Trip Advisor told me that you can basically stroll down to the marina, find some options for cruises, and just get on a boat. I just kind of shrugged and prayed it was that easy.

 

Turns out it was that easy. We got scooped up quickly by a ticketing agent who was excited that we were American. His first reaction was “I love Obama!” which is, I mean, a little dated. But also, me too, ticket guy. He got us set up on a boat that definitely wasn’t ready for departure yet. In fact, the crew was sitting in the galley eating their dinner—some chicken and a whole sliced watermelon. But they all smiled and welcomed us aboard.

We climbed upstairs and got settled in the shady corner of the boat. For a delusional five minutes, we thought we might be the only people on the cruise. But over the next half and hour (which dragged on forever) we saw many more patrons board. And what a crew. A couple families, a few couples. Many selfie queens. A pair of dudes whose pictures we kept photobombing.

There was also this little boy, maybe three, who kept looking at us and smiling. He was such a little flirt. We waved at him a couple times and he’d smile and hide behind his dad, but then poke out and smile again. God he was cute.

The boat ride itself was exactly what I wanted. It was a beautiful time of day, just before sunset where the sky was gold and pink and reflected on the water. The route of the boat ride went along all these big hotels and resorts along the coast, and culminated with one of Antalya’s famous waterfalls. It was relaxing, and pretty. Although the music on the boat was a little loud for our taste. But granted, we sat right next to the speaker, so maybe that was on us.

 

After our boat ride we went in search of dinner. It was kind of hard to do, considering our usual gauge of a “good” restaurant is one with people already at it. Well, almost every place in Kaleiçi was dead empty. So we had to roll the dice a bit and just pick a place.

 

We found an outdoor pub that had some clients—though most of them were just smoking hookah, so it was hard to judge the food. But either way we sat down and ordered some sangria and fajitas.

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Some interesting notes about this restaurant.

 

1. There was a family of cats roaming the joint. Like a momma cat and like five kittens who were all on their own adventures with no regard for their lives. We were right by the road too, which was less than ideal for kitten safety.

2. This kitchen had too many cooks. In the figurative sense. Basically every employee of this establishment was pacing back and forth, looking for something to do. We were sitting right next to one of the “aisles” so it was a little annoying.

3. But, lucky for us, the food here was absolutely amazing. Again, we’d both gotten fajitas. Mexican food in Turkey. Interesting choice, I know, but hey, it sounded good. So they served up the spiced chicken and veggies with sides of pesto sauce and barbecue sauce. An odd combination, yes, but hear me out. It was SO good. We both ran out of the pesto at one point and got bummed because it was so tasty. Sarah also gave some chicken to the mama cat because she’s feline Mother Theresa.

 

Again we got the whole “You didn’t finish? Did you not like?” Look, Turkey. Your portion sizes are huge and we’re little people. Also we can’t be the first people to not finish a plate. But anyhow. The staff did give us each a glass of Turkish tea on the house, so that was nice.

 

After leaving the restaurant, we mosied over to a bar on the way back to our hotel where there was some live music playing. The bar itself was really cool, and they’d struck a good balance where you could hear the music great but still hear the person talking next to you. We got margaritas that were mostly sour mix, which was less than ideal, but we still enjoyed the atmosphere.

Also the lead guitarist of the band was REALLY cute.

…she said while zooming in.

 

Anyways, after a little while there, we headed back in for the night. We only had one full day left in Turkey. Time to go out with a bang.

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